BBQ Humor


New Standard Operating Procedures released today. Please learn.
BBQ RULES 
We are about to enter the BBQ season. Therefore it is important to refresh your memory on the etiquette of this sublime outdoor
 cooking activity . When a man volunteers to do the BBQ the following chain of events are put into motion:
Routine…. 
(1) The woman buys the food. 
(2) The woman makes the salad, prepares the vegetables, and makes dessert

(3) The woman prepares the meat for cooking, places it on a tray along with the necessary cooking utensils and sauces, and takes it to the man who is lounging beside the grill – beer in hand. 
(4) The woman remains outside the compulsory three meter exclusion zone where the exuberance of testosterone and other manly bonding activities can take place without the interference of the woman.

Here comes the important part: 
(5)
 THE MAN PLACES THE MEAT ON THE GRILL.
More routine… 
(6) The woman goes inside to organize the plates and cutlery. 
(7) The woman comes out to tell the man that the meat is looking great. He thanks her and asks if she will bring another beer while he flips the meat.

Important again: 
(8) THE MAN TAKES THE MEAT OFF THE GRILL AND HANDS IT TO THE WOMAN. 

More routine… 
(9)
 The woman prepares the plates, salad, bread, utensils, napkins, sauces, and brings them to the table. 
(10)
 After eating, the woman clears the table and does the dishes.
And most important of all: 
(11)
 Everyone PRAISES the MAN and THANKS HIM for his cooking efforts.
(12) The man asks the woman how she enjoyed ‘ her night off ‘, and, upon seeing her annoyed reaction, concludes that there’s just no pleasing some women.
Posted in America, Family, Food, Humor, Marriage, Relatioships, Thoughts & Musings | Tagged | 2 Comments

The Deal


Welcome to another edition of poetry Monday. Given that my offspring is about to have another birthday, the following poem by him felt particularly appropriate.

The Deal

This is the deal, I tell you:

You’re half me, half your mother, roughly.

We made you, from ourselves.

You look appropriately skeptical

but make no comment, since you can’t yet talk.

Sexual reproduction, if you’re wondering,

the details don’t matter for now, I go on.

What matters is, I have to warn you,

the whole thing is a bit random.

We couldn’t pick and choose,

you get a sort of tasting menu of us,

with the chef just slopping stuff together,

drunk on rum meant for the flambé.

You look worried now.

But hey, the basic ingredients are good —

we, ourselves, were made by our parents,

from themselves, in much the same way.

You look really worried now

suggesting I’ve underestimated your grasp

of grandparental visits.

Well, let’s not worry too much about the ingredients,

because it’s really how you bake the cake that matters,

and your mother and I are going to bake the hell out of you!

You don’t look reassured,

which is, I suppose, a good sign.

p.ferenczi

Posted in Children, Family, Fathers and Sons, Hope, Love, Poetry, Relatioships, Thoughts & Musings | Leave a comment

A Brief Visit Outside of Time


Stepping Out of Time

There is little question the past 12 months have been hard on all of us, hard on the world. At some moments in our personal journey on this orb hurtling relentlessly through space, we need to create a pause, a brief waystation out of time, a momentary respite to allow us to catch our breaths, and reflect on our purpose, our goals, and the nature of who we are. For me, the piano music of Erik Satie, the visceral feel of John Coltraine’s saxophone, the magic carpet of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, along with certain canvases of the French Impressionists, allow me to step out of ordinary time, the one marked by the fleeting seconds of my watch, and into another dimension, where neither movement nor duration exists. Here, there is no before, no after, no anticipation of what is to come. The clocks are silent, as if gripped with respect. Time has stopped; all movement is suspended, freed of the pull of gravity, while the rest of the world continues at its hectic pace. These bubbles of quiet solitude invite us to breathe in slowly, and exhale our anxiety, our stress, our rush to be somewhere else, to be doing something. We can allow ourselves, just for a brief respite, to be, to appreciate a moment, to experience rapture in the beauty that had created this spot out of ordinary time.

Nature shares in this creative power; a sea, eternally licking at the sand on the shore when not pounding the rocks with its might; a mountain resplendent in spring flowers sending its scent into the cool morning air; the myriad of stars filling the velvet night with promises of distant worlds. Each of us has their own dreams. All you need is to become receptive, allow yourself to become aware. And if the conditions are right, something fantastic happens: time becomes timeless, the air grows purer, and peace surrounds you. This state is short, ephemeral, before time begins to move again. However, even when the enchantment is over, you are left with a new sense of vitality. You move on with your life, reinvigorated, renewed.  

Posted in America, Covid-19, Health and wellness, Music, Thoughts & Musings, Time | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Last Act


Many of you are back from your Easter Sunday celebration, and The Poem of the Week is here for you. This poem is being offered in honor of my stepbrother, who died on Saturday, surrendering to the ravages of a long, cruel series of illnesses that finally wore his body down. For those who know me personally, don’t worry when you read this. I’m not offering this as the blueprint for my own exit. Memento mori.

Last Act

I used to fantasize that, terminally old,

in a final act of awesome

I’d take a raucous late-60s Dodge or Plymouth,

gas-jet-blue paint and glasspack exhaust,

scream it off a high desert cliff,

and going Louise one better, pack it tight with dynamite,

mash the button mid-flight

with camera rolling

to immortalize the bloom, the boom,

the grand exit.

Back then, there was a VHS camcorder steady in the sand,

whirring calmly in the ensuing quiet,

(retrospectively, perhaps, the most beautiful moment)

recording the crawling black smoke plume

until the tape clicked off

to be discovered by my admiring survivors,

but I didn’t foresee high-def GoPros,

maybe a drone following me down,

a posthumous YouTube viral moment,

or the FBI breaking in my door at 4am on the big day,

the humiliation of geriatric zip tie confinement,

trying to explain that my giant car bomb

was the world’s fastest euthanasia machine

in terms of killing and the quarter mile.

p.ferenczi

Posted in America, Death and Dying, Family, Health and wellness, Poetry, Thoughts & Musings | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

St. Ouen


It’s Monday morning, so it must be time for another Poem of the Week. Though pandemic travel restrictions prevent us still from visiting some of our favorite haunts, here is a piece to send you off on a virtual visit to somewhere far away. Enjoy, be well, stay healthy.

St. Ouen

In the flea markets north of Paris,

the possessions of past lives wash up

on the gentle tide of calculating hope

that what was once owned will again be bought,

was once cherished will again be desired,

that the investment of years and dust pays interest.

The fountain pen flow of wish you were here

sent beyond context to echo in dense postcard collections,

card catalogs indexing lost memories.

Glass stoppers widowed by long-broken decanters,

the accidental obstinance of their solidity

a sentence on each to endure beyond purpose

but for the hope of being re-paired, against all odds,

with a whole vessel whose dry, empty throat

thirsts for their precise diameter to be complete.

Unsigned paintings of unknown people

make brief eye contact across lifetimes,

stern in their distant moment.

Patinaed keys in a basket,

passwords encoded in delicately ramifying metal

waiting to be whispered in long-vanished locks,

answers to questions replaced by deadbolts.

Weapons, blades and barrels,

lethality antiqued by more efficient descendants,

decorative quaintness excusing the morbid allure

of edges perhaps once redly wet,

of hot metal perhaps once guiding shot to flesh.

Pitted desks where plans were sketched, letters penned,

difficult decisions twisted into wood grain,

dark drawers that sheltered secrets and trifles,

planted sturdy through the blink of a room’s history.

Books last read by candlelight,

chandeliers once tinkled by bomb concussions,

musical instruments that outlived all teachers,

medical models, tired chairs, family photographs like drifts of leaves,

all this and an endless more flows to Saint Ouen,

waits paused in that curated purgatory

to rejoin the human story of things.

p.ferenczi

Posted in History, Poetry, Thoughts & Musings, Travel | Tagged , | 3 Comments

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream


Though I’m thankfully way past my student days, I still experience recurring dreams about school. I have an important exam to get to, I can’t remember a word of what I read in the textbook the night before, and I’ve forgotten in what room the test is being held, as I run in panic through halls, desperately looking for someone I know going into a classroom to give me a clue.

Dreaming is a universal human experience; although there are a number of themes running through them, dreams are also unique to the dreamer, capable of provoking not only fear and anxiety, but also wonderment and calm. Animals appear to have them as well, though we are in the dark as to their content. Considering that we spend roughly a third of our lives sleeping and dreaming, it seems remarkable how little we actually know about our need for this proven vital activity.

If you are interested in the science of sleep and dreaming, you might enjoy reading “When Brains Dream” by Antonio Zadra and Robert Stickgold, leading researchers in this topic, as recently reviewed in the WSJ. They note that “for it to have been maintained across half a billion years of evolution, sleep must serve functions critical to our survival.” When I was in medical school and interested in this topic, we learned that one of these functions is cellular housekeeping. More recent science has shown that sleep deprivation leads to impaired insulin signaling. In one study of otherwise healthy college students, limiting their sleep to only four hours a night made them look and act prediabetic. During my studies, I also learned that during sleep, unwanted waste products were cleared from the brain, one of which was recently shown to be beta-amyloid, the prime suspect in Alzheimer’s disease.

Attempts to understand and interpret dreams are woven throughout our history. Dreams and their meanings play prominent roles in religious traditions from Buddhism to Judaeo-Christian writings, from Greek philosophy to Freud and Jung. Some have looked on dreams as prophecies coming from God or Spirits, while others have felt that they exist to encode our memories of the prior day. The writers of this book offer evidence that the process is significantly more complex, that we actually dream in all four stages of sleep, not just REM sleep (as previously thought), and that the four sleep stages have different functions. They hypothesize that the neurochemistry for strengthening one kind of memory, say playing an instrument, is different from emotional memories and abstract problem solving, the latter of which they place during REM sleep. They feel that this is the best explanation as to why we have so many different stages of sleep.

When we are awake, the brain is a problem solving machine, receiving broad bandwidth input through all our five senses, and functions primarily in a linear fashion. During sleep however, the brain is able to process earlier input, and search through its database of weaker stimuli, searching for possible close matches to recent experience, and strengthening inputs in a non-linear fashion, thus creating new ideas and concepts. Clearly, our ignorance regarding sleep and its associated dreams remains vast. Yet the ideas and the evidence presented here are intriguing. Certainly, something to dream about.

Posted in America, Health and wellness, Medicine, Mental Health, Religion, Science, Thoughts & Musings | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Links


Another week has flown by in the inexorable march of time, and Poetry Monday is here again to celebrate that unique bond between fathers and sons. Enjoy!

Links

We are now both irrevocably fathers,

links on a strange chain

made of all manner of metal,

each at first an unproven alloy

smelted in a forge of chance,

each of particular melting point and tensile strength,

specific luster, individual density,

each bearing friction’s wear,

heavier at first on the trailing side,

the scuff and scrape as the fresh link hardens.

Then the next is attached,

a new end that twists and tugs and finds its shape,

that marks and is marked in turn.

Each is unique

but a chorusing of like qualities

conducts through the clinking links,

distorted by transmission but recognizable,

ever fainter but finally ineffaceable,

all the length of this chain

that fades distant into lost history

but pulls unbroken, unbreakable.

p.ferenczi

Posted in America, Children, Family, Fathers and Sons, Poetry, Relatioships, Thoughts & Musings | 4 Comments

Blessed Be The Irish


At the risk of offending our PC readers, it is St. Patrick’s Day, and the following bits of humor came from some of my Irish friends. We can all use a little levity these days.

At the Irish wedding reception, the M.C.. yelled… 

“Would all married men please stand next to the 

one person who has made your life worth living.” 

The bartender was almost crushed to death, but is expected to survive…

Donation

Father O’Malley answers the phone. ‘Hello, is this Father O’Malley?’ 

‘It is!’ 

‘This is the IRS. Can you help us?’ 

‘I can!’

‘Do you know a Ted Houlihan?’ 

‘I do!’ 

‘Is he a member of your congregation?’ 

‘He is!’ 

‘Did he donate $10,000 to the church?’ 

‘He will.’

Posted in America, Humor, Religion, Thoughts & Musings | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Larder


Welcome back to Poetry Monday. Hope you all survived the weekend weather, and are ready to face a new week refreshed by your break. We all need a repository to help nourish us through lean times, as the following poem informs us.

Here’s my larder,

laid away in the bloom of today against a meager tomorrow.

These stacked boxes contain footsteps,

collected on long, effortless walks

for when I slow and shuffle

and find myself back in my chair

never having left.

(And those in the corner

are for going up and down stairs

like they aren’t mountains,

like elevators were never invented.)

These are cans of whispers

in loud bars, crowded restaurants, parties,

plucked from the lips of lovers and friends

that I will listen to when other sounds

are a slushy rush of mouths and clatter.

These are racks of dried details

that I picked effortlessly, thoughtlessly out of the world.

I’ll add water to expand my vision

when my attention narrows to a tunnel

pointing ponderously to this or that and nothing else.

Hanging on the ceiling are links of salted thoughts,

each leading tight and fibrous to the next.

I will consume them like meaty rosaries

when my own thoughts begin to drift and dead-end.

Back here are oak barrels of sleep

that I’ll bottle for those future four AMs

when I lie parched in bed

wandering in the waking emptiness between oases gone to dust.

And those sacks bulge with moments

in which nothing hurts, nothing at all.

I know, they’re huge, countless grains in each,

but they’re a vanishing fraction of the moments

that have slipped unnoticed through my fingers.

I’m afraid they won’t be enough.

p.ferenczi

Posted in America, Books and Literature, Family, friendship, Loneliness, Poetry, Relatioships | Leave a comment

Too Busy to Think


My stepmother frequently urged those around her to “Do something!” This command was repeated by her until you began to act on her urging to accomplish whatever goal she set her mind to. She was far from unique in preferring immediate action as the solution to problems versus taking time to deliberate on the best course, which sometimes involved doing nothing. The difficulty is our whole society has an action bias: We would rather be seen doing something than nothing, even if the latter is the best strategy.

Thomas J. Watson, the longtime CEO of IBM in the early 1900’s, complained: “The trouble with every one of us is that we don’t think enough. Knowledge is the result of thought, and thought is the keynote of success in this business or any business.”

One reason we have a bias toward doing something is that we are rewarded for the simple appearance of activity. Many view constant busyness as mark of status. Yet, this conventional wisdom about busyness is wrong. In a 2015 study in the Harvard Business Review, Erin Reid published a paper correlating performance of those putting in excessive hours versus those who didn’t, and could find no difference in the results of their output. Managers could also not tell the difference of the results of those who put in longer hours than those who only claimed to do so. If overwork brings no real benefits, why are we so reluctant to pause for thinking and learning?

For soccer fans, some of the most dramatic moments are the penalty kicks deciding the outcome of the entire match. The ball is placed centered on the goal, 11 meters away. The goalie must stay on or behind the goal line, but may move either left or right before the ball is actually kicked. Surprisingly, the goalie’s best strategy may be not to move at all. In 2007, there was a study of 300 penalty kicks in professional soccer matches, finding that goalies jump to the left 49.3% of the time, and to the right 44.3% of the time, staying on the center only 6.3% of the time. Kicks went left, right and center 32.2%, 28.7% 39.2% of the time, respectively. Goalies are more likely to stop the ball just by staying put. When goalies were questioned why they preferred to dive to one side or another instead of staying put, most goalies responded that they would regret a goal more if they stayed in the center instead of diving to try and stop it. In other words, they wanted to be seen doing something, even if that something was wrong.

It’s the same fear of regret of not doing something that drives many of our workday decisions. However, taking the time to think, reflect, and approach problems in a more rested state is likely to prove to be the better strategy.

Posted in America, Family, Health and wellness, Sports, Thoughts & Musings | Tagged , , | 4 Comments